When you hear the word autotune, who comes to mind?
If you’re a pop culture fanatic, you may think of Cher, who is often credited as the first artist to experiment with autotune with her 1998 single, “Believe.”
But if there’s anyone whose known for using autotune consistently, it’s hip hop artist, T-Pain. In fact, he’s so strongly associated with autotune that an iPhone app called “I Am T-Pain” was created to mimic the effect.
Every one of T-Pain’s songs brings me back to my college days when I actually looked forward to going to the club. He had hits like Bartender, Buy U a Drank, and I’m N Luv with a Stripper just to name a few.
These songs cut through the late 2000s competitive hip-hop scene. T-Pain was up against artists like Lil Wayne, Drake, T.I., Flo-Rida and Jay-Z and yet he still produced hit after hit.
The Secret to Brand Voice Differentiation
Marketers can relate to T-Pain’s position as an artist. Your category is crowded. Whether it’s your personal brand or your business, you’ve got your own set of competitors.
In the face of competition, most underdogs have their strategy all wrong. I’ve had countless clients who try to copy what their competitors are doing, throw more money at advertising, or invest in expensive innovations to try to demonstrate that they are better.
From what I’ve seen, these efforts won’t push you ahead in the race — at least not as quickly as you’d hope.
Take it from one of my favorite authors, Sally Hogshead, who says
“It’s good to be better, but it’s better to be different.”
And this is exactly how T-Pain stood out. He wasn’t necessarily better than other artists of his era, but he packaged his work in a unique way with autotune. It was something we’d never heard before. After his debut single “I’m Sprung” dropped, we were hooked.
Individuals and brands have a similar opportunity to differentiate themselves. You don’t have to be the best or have the biggest following to get noticed. All it takes is a creative approach that is unlike what the other guys are doing.
Finding Your Brand Voice
If you work in marketing, you may have heard about the 4 P’s of marketing which summarizes the pillars of a marketing strategy.
- Product – Brand, Services, Packaging
- Place – Market, Channel, Distribution
- Price – Discount, Offer Price, Credit Policy
- Promotion – Advertising, Publicity, Sales Promotion
The 4 P’s of marketing were introduced in the 1950s, yet brands are still leaning on them to create their marketing mix.
However, customers of today are turned off when brands only speak to their products, pricing, placement, and promotion. The 4 P’s do little to differentiate your brand or make your audience connect with you.
Instead, brands need to shift to the new P’s of marketing. In his book, About Face: The Secrets of Emotionally Effective Advertising, Dan Hill says the new P’s of marketing are
These are the 3 P’s are what will make your brand shine in 2020.
Breaking Down the 3 P’s: Personality, Passion, Purpose
First, let’s start with personality, because this reminds me of T-Pain. His use of autotune added personality to his music and lyrics. He found a way to make his songs uniquely his by expressing himself in a different way.
We see this in other competitive categories. For example, Wendy’s stands out in the fast food wars by sharing their brand voice with a touch of sass.
— Wendy’s (@Wendys) February 28, 2020
Next is passion. This is another commonality we see in the music industry and marketing. Musicians share their passions with us through song. Through their use of lyrics and melody, they get their audiences to feel something.
This should be every marketer’s goal — to get your audience to care and to feel your passion.
Apple does this well. They’re not just passionate about technology, but what the technology can do for people. They want to spark your creativity.
Same with Nike. They’re not just passionate about shoes and sports apparel, but what the apparel can do for you. They want to ignite your inner athlete.
Lastly, is purpose. Your audience wants to buy from brands who have a purpose that’s bigger than your bottom line.
Today, we look for brands that are sustainable and socially responsible. And especially in light of COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement, we’ve seen tons of brands take a stand on both safety and diversity.
A brand who’s never missed an opportunity to stand up for what they believe in is Ben & Jerry’s.
Connecting with Your Audience with the 3 P’s
Remember: if you want to stand out and build a relationship with your audience, spend less time highlighting your products and promotions and more time expressing your personality, passion, and purpose.
Even T-Pain would agree that finding your unique brand voice can be a key to success.